It took more than one year of searching the world and screening nearly 1,000 candidates, but Disney has finally cast its Mulan
for the live-action remake of the 1998 animated film.
Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, is the Mulan we’ve been waiting for.
If you’re a huge fan of Chinese dramas, you’ll probably remember Liu Yifei from her roles in The Story of a Noble Family
, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
, Chinese Paladin
, and The Return of the Condor Heroes
And if you’re really into Asian entertainment, you’ll know that she’s Korean superstar Song Seung Hun’s other half. We bet you don’t know that her net worth is approximately USD$10 million (RM41mil) or that she’s a major philanthropist with a heart of gold!
Here are ten other things we bet you probably don’t know about Liu Yifei:
1. Liu Yifei is not her real name
Liu Yifei was born as An Feng in 1987 to An Shaokang, a university professor and diplomat and Liu Xiaoli, a professional dancer and performer. However, her parents got divorced when she was only seven years old and her name was changed to Liu Ximeizi.
Since Liu Ximeizi is quite a mouthful, she adopted Liu Yifei as her stage name when she returned to China in 2002 and entered the entertainment industry. In English-speaking countries, she is also known as Crystal Liu.
2. She’s a US citizen
Though she was actually born and raised in Wuhan, China, Liu Yifei and her mom moved to the US when she was 10 years old.
In fact, she studied at the Louis Pasteur Middle School in Long Island, New York for four years.
But since renewing visas can be a real pain, she got an American passport. The Chinese star is still extremely proud of her native country and has said that she considers herself a Chinese citizen.
3. She’s fluent in four languages
You’ve probably guessed by now that she’s fluent in English since she’s lived in the US for 4 years.
Acting alongside international stars and actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Nicolas Cage, Hayden Christensen, and Emile Hirsch, she’s also had English-speaking roles in a few international productions including The Forbidden Kingdom
, and The Chinese Widow
Besides Mandarin and English, the actress can also speak French, thanks to her dad who was a French-language university professor and is currently a diplomat at the Chinese embassy in France. So, brushing up on her French for Night Peacock
, a 2016 Chinese-French coproduction starring HK legend Leon Lai, was not super tough!
But that’s not all... the multi-lingual actress also learned Japanese and even released a Japanese album in 2006.
4. She’s also super talented in music
Signed by Sony Music Entertainment in 2005, the actress branched out into music and released her self-titled Mandarin album in 2006. It featured rap, soft rock, and pop songs.
That year, her J-pop album featuring the single and theme song of the animation series Powerpuff Girls Z
, “Mayonaka no door
”, was also released.
Unlike Mulan, Liu Yifei is really good at playing musical instruments. She had formal piano training ever since she was a kid.
She also played the pipa, a Chinese traditional instrument, in the Leon Lai-led historical period movie, White Vengeance
, and the Hollywood action movie, The Forbidden Kingdom
and took several guzheng
lessons for her role in Love in Disguise
opposite Taiwanese singer Wang Leehom.
5. She can kill it on the dance floor
Besides getting formal piano and singing lessons, the former child star also got the dancing genes from her mother who was a professional dancer and stage performer. As a child, she was also trained in classical Chinese dance.
If you’re still not convinced that this girl can dance, check out these mean hip-hop moves she’s got here:
6. She was a child model
Liu Yifei may look like a fairy or goddess now but she was absolutely angelic as a child.
At just eight years old, she beat over 1800 contestants in a child modelling contest in China. In fact, her child and teen modelling pictures can still be found on the streets of her hometown, Wuhan.
7. She was this close to the life of a normal person....
....and we were this close to never seeing Liu Yifei play everybody’s favourite Chinese warrior heroine. When she first expressed her interest in acting, her parents weren’t very keen on seeing her enter showbiz. After seeing how much she liked acting, they decided to let her return to China to study acting.
Thanks to her fluency in English and her test results, Beijing Film Academy made an exception for the 15-year-old and accepted her, making her the youngest student in the prestigious film school’s Performance Institute in 2002.
8. She can definitely kick ass!
If you’re worried that she can’t do her own stunts for Mulan
, fear not!
Since her breakout role as the sword-wielding, butt-kicking Xiao Longnu in the 2006 TV adaptation of Louis Cha’s martial arts classic, The Return of the Condor Heroes
, she’s acted in many martial arts and historical period movies and dramas, including the epic film trilogy The Four.
Most recently, she played a badass fox goddess, Bai Qian, in the fantasy romance, Once Upon a Time
9. Her work is critically-acclaimed
Despite some mixed reviews lately, the 30-year-old actress is definitely not just another pretty face.
Her performance as Xiao Longnu made her so popular that she won the Golden Eagle Actress Award at the 2008 China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival.
At the 5th Macau International Movie Festival in 2013, she scooped up the Best Actress for her heartbreaking performance in historical drama The Assassins
The popular actress has also received Best Actress nominations for her work in Night Peacock
and The Chinese Widow
10. She’s a huge animal lover
In 2011, she turned her home into a shelter for stray cats, rehabilitating them and finding new homes for them. She even helps her fans find their dogs by reblogging their Lost Dog posts on Weibo.